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League One

Walsall snap up James O'Connor

21 June 2014

Walsall have signed former Derby County defender James O'Connor.

Birmingham-born O'Connor, who came through the youth ranks at Aston Villa, has put pen to paper on a one-year contract having been released by the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off finalists.

"In James we have signed an extremely reliable and solid defender," Saddlers manager Dean Smith told the club's official website.

"He is someone that I played alongside for a time at Port Vale and who has worked with Richard O'Kelly for a number of years, so we know exactly the type of character he is and what he will bring to the club.

"He learned his trade at Aston Villa and is a fantastic professional who can play anywhere across the back four and will have a real positive presence around the place.

"There were a lot of teams interested in him when he left Derby County, but I am delighted that he has chosen to come here. It certainly is a big bonus for us and I look forward to working with him."

During his time with Villa, O'Connor had loan spells at Vale and Bournemouth before he was sold to Doncaster Rovers in May 2006. He went on to make 242 senior appearances for Rovers.

A move to Derby followed ahead of the 2012/13 campaign but his time with the Rams was beset by injuries and last season the 29-year-old spent time out on loan at Walsall's League 1 rivals Bristol City.

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